Christmas morning is the last time you want to be cooking up a storm, especially if you have to conjure up a feast for relatives later that same day. The answer to an easy breakfast for your loved ones: a Christmas surprise brunch board!
Cheese board artist Kaiy Smith, who has two little ones and a big Italian extended family, knows about the joy of brunch boards. She says that seeing your family race downstairs and their faces light up at a big spread of all their favorite foods is the best feeling.
“On Christmas morning, everybody looks forward to gifts and presents in a lot of households, but the other thing people look forward to is brunch,” Smith says. “We eat more now than ever with our eyes, and taking the extra time to make a beautiful presentation is worth the work because it makes being at home special.”
Turning that brunch into a big activity where everyone can pick and choose their toppings and decorate their own waffle or pancake makes the day extra-special, Smith says. “Since everyone is home and you have the chance to bond, it’s so much better if you have an activity, like a build-your-own waffle station, or pancake station—everyone gets to go crazy and do something they don’t normally get to do.”
From balancing savory and sweet ingredients, to how to cut your citrus so it looks extra-fancy, here are Smith’s best pointers for creating a festive, Instagrammable board that will inspire delight from breakfast to late afternoon.
Pick a color theme
Red and green are great, but it’s also easy to do bright yellow and golden tones or add strawberries or edible flowers for purple or red.
Make a river of carbs
Yeah, you heard that right: a river of carbs—what could be better for Christmas morning? Smith advises designing your brunch board around a starch, whether it’s waffles, crepes, mini toasts, or pancakes. “You can anchor your board by making your starch the center of your board, waving it out in a winding river-like design,” Smith says.
Match your sides
Whatever your starch is will determine your accompaniments, Smith says. Surround a toast board with a variety of jams and avocado slices. For a brunch board of glazed donuts, add jelly, nuts and powdered sugar and cinnamon for dipping or sprinkling.
Craft citrus stars
Add a bright, citrusy note to your brunch board with citrus stars. You can make this textured design with oranges, grapefruit, or even non-citrus fruit like strawberries, figs, melons, or kiwi—anything without a pit.
To make the star, turn your paring knife on a diagonal and do a diagonal cut deep into the center of the orange. Continue the diagonal cuts a centimeter apart all the way into the orange, all the way around the orange. Then, turn your knife on the opposite diagonal, connecting your previous cuts so that you have a zigzag pattern all the way around. “This gives texture to your board, but it also lets people know you’re damn fancy,” Smith says. “It’s not a very hard trick, but it elevates everything and makes your family feel special.”
Add vegan proteins and nuts
A board of starches and sweets would leave your household hungry in an hour or two, so add vegan maple bacon, vegan apple sausage, candied pecans or walnuts, and scrambled Just Egg to your platter.
Create mini yogurt bowls
Add a few bowls of vegan yogurt or make parfaits with blueberries and granola. That way, sides like chocolate chips, maple syrup or vegan honey, cinnamon and sugar can adorn either waffles or yogurt.
Happy holidays and happy brunching!